Open-box and refurbished devices are often mistaken for the same thing, and their terms are used interchangeably. It’s common to see some retailers selling them in the same section of their store or online shop. However, they are not the same, and their differences can be crucial to scoring the best deal. Here are the key points you should consider before buying either of these products.

What is open box?

An open-box product is a used item the customer has returned after opening it and put on sale again by the retailer or manufacturer. The reasons for returning the product can vary, but it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have to be broken or malfunction in any way; the previous owner may have just changed their mind, or it may have been a display model.

We have a complete article about what open box means, if you should buy one, and what to consider in your purchase. We strongly recommend you check it out to have a better-informed opinion.

What is refurbished?

A refurbished product is a previously owned item that has been restored to full working condition. The device may have been used regularly or as a floor model. Refurbished devices sold by reputable sellers are carefully inspected, repaired if needed, and cleaned. They usually offer a professional warranty of a minimum of one year and hassle-free return policies.

Some refurbishers have the highest standards for making their products look like new, such as the Apple Certified Refurbished program. These Apple devices are almost indistinguishable from the brand-new products of the company. Whatever the case, all refurbished items should be in perfect working condition, and the main difference lies in the cosmetic condition.

Inside of a MacBook Pro

What is the difference between open-box and refurbished products?

The main difference between an open-box and a refurbished product is that the latter has been repaired to be sold again with a warranty, while the former has been returned and put back in store with an open-box label.

Nevertheless, we suggest you take this explanation with a pinch of salt. Some open-box items pass certified processes in which they are professionally cleaned and inspected to look and work like a factory device. They may not need any repairs since they are in perfect working condition, and you would be able to get substantial discounts for what could essentially be a factory-new item if the product has not been used for long.

The verdict

In our opinion, buying a refurbished device is always the best option since you get the ease of mind of having a professional warranty and a thorough inspection and repairs made by professionals. While it’s true you can get certified open-box products that work like a charm, it’s also a risk: some open-box devices don’t include warranties, you don’t know how thoroughly they have been tested, and the savings may not be worth it all.

On RefurbMe, we compare hundreds of Apple-refurbished products you can buy from trusted sellers. They all offer a warranty and have been inspected by expert technicians, offering you security beyond solely great discounts. Head on to our best-selling deals to know what you can find.

Frequently asked questions

This section will answer the most frequently asked questions about open box and refurbished products.

What do I need to consider before buying open-box devices?

Be sure to check where the device came from, how it was used, how much wear and tear it has, what the return policies are, if it has a warranty, and whether it includes any accessories at all. Knowing these aspects could save you a lot of headaches in the short and long term if you need to return them for any reason or to maximize durability.

Do open-box devices include a warranty?

Open-box devices can include a warranty, but they don’t necessarily have one. Be sure to check it before your purchase and try to avoid it if you can’t find any. Since the manufacturer’s warranty may not be applied anymore, there is nothing you can do if the device malfunctions.

Is refurbished more reliable than open box?

Generally, refurbished products are more reliable than open-box ones. They are both used products, but the refurbishing process of reputable sellers ensures that the item is in perfect working condition; their technicians carefully inspect and clean it, replace any of its parts if needed—including the battery—and offer a professional warranty.

Some open-box devices have not been thoroughly examined before being sold again and may not include a warranty. In addition, you can find professional refurbished programs directly from the manufacturer, such as Apple Certified Refurbished, offering excellent discounts with the highest quality standards and AppleCare coverage.